Back pain after raking leaves?

Are you dreading the leaves falling and those autumn gardening jobs this year?

Autumn is a wonderful time of year with leaves turning an array of colours to brighten up the countryside, but for some it sees extra jobs in the garden that become a chore! Every year, we see people in clinic who have injured themselves from raking leaves and carrying out other heavy gardening jobs! If you're feeling a little overwhelmed with the gardening and how your body will cope, read on for some handy hints to keep yourself injury free!

For some people, gardening only produces a mild discomfort that is short lived, but for others it can create a burning pain in your back or even an overstrain injury. Repetitive twisting whilst sweeping and raking leaves can easily strain ligaments throughout the body. The same is true for lifting heavy pots and bags of compost when you've not lifted anything heavy for a while. Lack of balance, repetitive twisting and lifting, and poor fitness can all contribute to your aches and pains. Regardless of where your pain is coming from, there are a few easy steps you can take to help to prevent your garden aggravating your pain this autumn. 

Switch Sides Regularly!

You may have wondered why we mentioned balance in our last paragraph, and you're not alone! We commonly always use the same position when we sweep and rake and that constantly pulls your body to one side. This creates an imbalance, which can contribute to pain. It's a good idea to switch sides with your broom or rake regularly, as if you were doing alternating sets in the gym! It will feel strange and uncomfortable at first, but your brain will quickly work things out!

Use Good Posture...

It's important to make sure you don't hunch over when doing gardening jobs. Keep an upright, comfortable posture and try not to repeatedly twist your upper body. If you need to lift, keep the item close to your body and turn round with your feet, rather than your waist. Rather than bending, try crouching and use the strong muscles in your legs to help you lift, not your spine! Raking and sweeping should partly come from arm movements, mimicking a rowing motion, rather than a constant twisting of your body.  

Take Your Time.

Not many of us enjoy the repetitive chores such as raking leaves, but pacing yourself can have a huge positive benefit to your body. Take your time and try to enjoy being outside in your garden, even if that means splitting jobs into small chunks to be spread out throughout the day. Try to vary what you do too, rather than spending long periods of time on the same job. Spending 10 minutes, two or three times a week and spreading the load on your body is much easier than spending an hour once a week doing the same job.  

See an Osteopath!

If you feel pain or discomfort every time you rake or shovel, you could benefit from getting your joints, muscles and ligaments checked out. Your spine and body are worth protecting, so seeing one of our osteopaths as a preventative measure might save you a lot of pain or discomfort in the future.

With a little common sense, you can easily protect your body when carrying out those autumn chores in the garden. Remember, taking the time to get it done in increments will save you the trouble of one big day of raking! Either way, take good care of yourself, and feel free to contact us if your aches and pains are getting too much to cope with. 

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